I'm lying low in 36 degrees in Uzès in the South of France, bravely struggling on thanks to gallons of iced rosé, delivering daily cakes to the builders of my new house and girding my loins for my next culinary tour in Puglia, Southern Italy in September. Me, the gastronomads and our manager Ali will submit to the slow sensuality of the Puglians, the oldest olive oil in the world and shimmering raw seafood, to name a few pastimes. It's not a bad life...
We had a smashing culinary tour at the end of May, spending the first half of the week in the countryside and the second half in the medina with desert and mountain vists in between. All this was smoothed and nutured by our inimitable Moroccan manager Soufiane, whose charm and humour were excelled only by his knowledge and reliability – he's so perfect he even cooked dinner for me in his apartment. We rocked our cooking classes with fabulous dishes such as pigeon pastilla, hand made couscous, zaahlouk (cooked aubergine salad) and beef tagine with fresh apricots and walnuts from the garden. We found out the difference between a donkey and a horse and what happens when they make beautiful music together - mules! The last night party was distinguished by wild dancing, salubrious speech-making and promises to love everyone forever.
I had barely recovered from loving everybody in Marrakech when I drove from my Uzès base in France to the mysterious and little known land of the Basques - half French and half Spanish. The Spanish Basques consider eating good food to be the meaning life, which they graciously shared with us on our tour as we sailed around in our shiny black bus (which we called the hearse) complete with flashing lights and disco music. We swooned over pintxos (tapas) made of foie gras, smoked raw salt cod, black pudding with pine-nuts and the most delicious anchovies in the world. The chic French Basques showed us how to cure ham in the mountain air, make cherry pies and go mad in the food markets. The final bash included starring roles by famous chefs, men in black serenading us and the gastronomads swearing their diets would start the very next day.
I can't wait for my new tour to Vietnam in April 2016 – Vietnam is so hot right now. Have a great weekend, try to enjoy the winter and think of how wonderful you would feel on a week-long dinner party in an exotic clime with moi!
Ciao for now